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Speranza Animal Rescue rehabs abused, neglected dogs

MONROE TOWNSHIP, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- A Cumberland County woman has made it her mission to rehabilitate some of the most abused and neglected animals in Pennsylvania.

"Look at you! I’m so proud of you, Foxy!" said Janine Guido.

Foxy is making big strides approaching the FOX43 camera.

She’s lived most of her life with little to no human contact.

That is, until she came to Speranza Animal Rescue in  Monroe Township.

"Time is the biggest factor. We get dogs in here, I have a couple I literally could not touch for weeks," said Guido.

Guido founded the rescue several years ago.

Speranza means ‘hope’ in Italian, and she hopes to give Pitbulls and other bully breeds a second chance.

Doing so takes time, and Guido has to develop a special relationship with each pooch.

"If they don’t trust you, you don’t have anything. You need to form that relationship as soon as you can, and then, from there, you can praise them, you can correct them vocally," she explained.

It’s not the easiest job; some of the dogs are protective over their food and space.

"I’ll be honest, I’ve had some really bad bites. The one dog I showed you in the yard, Oscar, that’s a lifer, he bit me in the face really bad about four years ago… my lip was almost completely detached," she said.

There’s more than 100 volunteers who help at the rescue.

“A lot of them come in pretty scared so just socializing them. Initially, they’ll be with a more trained volunteer," explained Brandy Barner, a volunteer.

Barner’s one of those more experienced volunteers.

“I would spend seven days a week here, if I could," added Barner.

Despite rehab, some dogs may never be ready for foster care or adoption.

Guido tries to help every dog, even the ones that have bitten her. Still, some cannot be saved.

“I will not adopt a dog out unless I have 110 percent believe they’re ready to go out into a home environment," said Guido. “There’s been a handful of those that you know, I still cry myself to sleep about those at night, they’re the hard ones."

Although it's emotionally draining and physically exhausting at times, Guido has no plans of stopping.

“They’ve given me the gift of life, and a reason to get out of bed each day," she said.